Archive for Mobile from United Kingdom

All those watches! All that bandwidth?

by on September 6, 2009 at 1:55 am

Traveling Geeks 2009 UKBeing on the road mid-summer, and having to watch my use of bandwidth, I noticed an uptick in the number of spam messages encouraging me to buy cheap watches; or more watches; or fabulous watches; well, you get the drift. Since I already have enough watches, I would like to ignore these messages, but rather than cause me to look at other folks’ wrists, they have caused me to look at the ticking clock of my broadband network usage. (more…)

Europreneur Secrets – Scan Biz Cards with Your Mobile: Jack Lang

by on August 21, 2009 at 3:57 pm

Favorite Web Aps of European Entrepreneurs from Traveling Geeks Trip

The geeks are digging up some fun new things which may be new to you.

Jack Lang #WDYDWYD?I’ve queried some of my favorite new friends from Amsterdam, London and Cambridge about the tools they love. Here’s the fifth response, from Jack Lang, EIR at University of Cambridge, Serial Entrepreneur and Angel Investor. Jack is also the author of  “The High Tech Entrepreneur’s Handbook.” (more…)

Tech Recap from Traveling Geeks

by on August 3, 2009 at 6:11 pm

sky-studio-2009JD Lasica interviewed me (for about some of the tech we used on the Traveling Geeks trip to London. Topics covered are connectivity using cellular modems (provided by BT), the FeedWordPress plug-in, Flip (Mino and Ultra) video cameras, video streaming (on Nokia n79 using, Google Latitude…

You can download and use Google Latitude in the US, but you can’t download Google Latitude in the UK because it is “voluntarily” blocked by BT for privacy reasons (it discloses your location to others).

I just can’t say enough about how much use I get out of the little Flip MinoHD and UltraHD video cameras. I use them for all of my interviews now, and for shooting “trailers” to serve as proposals for projects. (more…)

Nokia and Social Media: We Learn it All

by on July 23, 2009 at 4:00 pm

In Cambridge at Nokia Labs this month, I met Nokia’s head of social media Mark Squires. I asked him, when did Nokia come up with a social media role at Nokia and how did he get involved?

He says that he looked after UK Communications for Nokia and during that time, he started a Nokia UK blog. As a result of his experiences, he wrote a paper on why SM was important to their followers and Nokia. Soon after the role of Director of Social Media was created, Mark slotted into it.

Mike-Squires head of social media for Nokia globally at Cambridge Nokia Labs (3)

Additional questions I presented to Mark below:

Renee: What is your favorite thing about what you do in the social media space for Nokia?

Mark: The first thing the team did was to create the BlogHub, a Nokia intranet site to gather all internal blog conversations to one place.

BlogHub lowers the barrier for Nokia employees to find and participate in relevant conversations. People can communicate more laterally rather than going up and down the organization.

In this way the Nokia company culture is not just a set of values in a slide set or posted on the intranet, it is a dynamic community.

With BlogHub, individual bloggers do not have to market their own blogs because all posts and comments receive visibility within BlogHub. I am very proud of the teams work on this, its commented on by all levels of the organization and it brought a lot of peoples thoughts to a wider audience.

Renee: Why do you think social media is important for Nokia and other companies of its size?

Mark: The world has changed, information has become democratized. As a result social media activities require a strategic shift from broadcast to a dialogue with those folk who are passionate about their opinion and our products.

In large organizations who are serious about their work it requires cross-functional partnerships between marketing, traditional communications and the social media. Our team frequently speaks with product teams to help them understand how social media can enhance the work they do.

The team has joined forces with traditional communications to create several social media releases, internal and external conversations and new ways of working. This is a real change in our outreach that makes what is a very large organization more responsive to those people inside and outside the company who care.

Renee: What is your favorite new Web 2.0 app that helps you be most effective and productive in your role?

Mark: No question, Gravity – it’s a great Twitter tool it runs constantly on my Nokia 5800.

Renee: What’s the most interesting relationship you have made using social media tools?

Mark: I have a friend in Thailand who is a tattooist, during an on-line conversation on phones I ended up discussing him in a conversation with folk on the West coast, one of them had been inked by him too, small world.

Most of my on-line time is spent on the UK pinball group, I maintain the Wiki and am a very active participant in the scene. When you have a hobby with 300 Kg machines, getting together virtually has lots to recommend it!

However because of the on-line engagement we now have an annual meeting where more than 100 of these machines and owners come together for a weekend, this year we are also hosts to the world championship, the first time the competition has taken place outside of the US.

Mike-Squires head of social media for Nokia globally at Cambridge Nokia Labs

Renee: How do you see the role of in-person meet ups and events changing as a result of social media?

Mark: These days we like to meet influencers on their terms. By holding a series of casual gatherings and “tweet ups” we speak to influencers about what is most important to them and allow them the opportunity to explore the devices and individual services that are relevant to them.

Some are interested in Mobile Journalism while others are more interested as mobile devices running social networking applications while still others are interested in messaging functionality. Whatever the feedback we value the conversations and share them with our own folk so we can all benefit.

The Social Media Communications Team at Nokia was established in early 2008 with the aim of improving inter-company communications and engaging employees.

The Objective of the team is to:

  • Encourage the use of social media internally to bring out the company’s unique authentic voice

  • Engage in social media externally on behalf of Nokia, contributing to product and service announcements by opening up a dialogue and online engagement

To this end, we outreach via our Nokia Conversations Blog, specific SM led activities and on-line engagements. As a founder member of the Blog Council, we try to lead by example in this area, therefore the team are not involved with paid marketing activities or on-line advertising, preferring to speak either through comment or face to face at events.

When we formed our first task was to write guideline to allow our own bloggers (we have nearly 1000) to post on Nokia during their work hours, these guidelines have since been widely shared on-line.

We also designed and maintain the Nokia BlogHub an internal aggregation site that allows everyone in Nokia to search, read and comment on the various blogs.

Externally our homemade videos (using the companies devices) of Nokia products and services has propelled our YouTube pages into the top 100 best read and our video of the Nokia flagship N97 product has been watched by a global audience of millions.

The feedback, both internally and externally, we have received so far is helping to shape both our products and our approach to the marketplace, you can read more about us on our blog

Finally, we also provide consulting to business leaders and Communications teams on how best to participate in the social media space, for example one of the team is about to visit China to talk to the Nokia team there about their engagement.

Check out Nokia’s internal voice.

Listen to their Blogbite.

And, join in their conversation.

Toward the era of (printed?) sentient things…

by on July 22, 2009 at 9:06 pm

When I wrote Smart Mobs in 2001 and launched the blog with the book in 2002, I made a number of forecasts about the convergence of the mobile phone, the personal computer, and the Internet. Some of these forecasts, particularly in regard to the use of mobile communications to organize political demonstrations, were accurate. Some of them haven’t happened yet. Some of them might not happen at all. I looked back at Smartmobs Revisited when I spoke at Mobile Monday Amsterdam in June, 2009. And I recently blogged about some reasons why the mobile Web hasn’t developed as rapidly as the tethered web did. Another 2001-2 forecast that has not come to pass by 2009 was what I called “the era of sentient things:”

Different lines of research and development that have progressed slowly for decades are accelerating now because sufficient computation and communication capabilities recently became affordable. These projects originated in different fields but are converging on the same boundary between artificial and natural worlds. The vectors of this research include:

* Information in places: media linked to location.
* Smart rooms: environments that sense inhabitants and respond to them.
* Digital cities: adding information capabilities to urban places.
* Sentient objects: adding information and communication to physical objects.
* Tangible bits: manipulating the virtual world by manipulating physical objects.
* Wearable computers: sensing, computing, communicating gear worn as clothing.

Information and communication technologies are invading the physical world, a trend that hasn’t even begun to climb the hockey stick growth curve. Shards of sentient silicon will be inside boxtops and dashboards, pens, street corners, bus stops, money, most things that are manufactured or built, within the next ten years. These technologies are “sentient” not because embedded chips can reason, but because they can sense, receive, store, and transmit information. Some of these cheap chips sense where they are: the cost of a global positioning system chip capable of tracking its location via satellite to accuracy of ten to fifteen meters is around $15 and dropping.

Watch smart mobs emerge when millions of people use location-aware mobile communication devices in computation-pervaded environments. Things we hold in our hands are already speaking to things in the world. Using our telephones as remote controls is only the beginning. At the same time that the environment is growing more sentient, the device in your hand is evolving from portable to wearable. A new media sphere is emerging from this process, one that could become at least as influential, lucrative, and ubiquitous as previous media spheres opened by print, telegraphy, telephony, radio, television, and the wired Internet.

But…not yet. However, I’ve seen a couple of recent indicators that this forecast might have been more premature than totally off the mark. First, one of the most reliable early indicators I turn to all the time, one of the few RSS feeds that I rarely miss scanning at least once a day, ReadWriteWeb, recently noted that IBM might be getting into the act:

In the Web world, you know that a trend has major traction when IBM is all over it. Like any large Internet company, Big Blue is careful about which trends it latches onto. It was a good couple of years before they were spotted at the Web 2.0 conference, for example. However in the case of Internet of Things, IBM is proving itself to be an unusually early adopter.

I recently spoke to Andy Stanford-Clark, a Master Inventor and Distinguished Engineer at IBM. Yesterday we wrote about how Stanford-Clark has hooked his house up to Twitter. Today we delve more into what his employer, IBM, is doing with the Internet of Things.

IBM is involved in some very interesting projects at the intersection of two big trends we’ve been tracking in 2009: The Real-time Web and Internet of Things. They have a website devoted to this topic, called A Smarter Planet. As the name implies, it focuses on environmental matters such as energy and food systems. Sensors, RFID tags and real-time messaging software are major parts of IBM’s smarter planet strategy. The catchcry for the site – Instrumented, Interconnected, and Intelligent – is about outfitting the world with sensors and hooking them to the Internet to apply the ’smarts.’

My spider-sense might not have tingled as strongly at this tidbit about IBM if I had not met Dr. Kate Stone in Cambridge, UK, a few weeks ago. Although the Travelling Geeks had seen dozens of remarkable startups in London and in Cambridge, the hint of what-might-be-news came when Dr. Stone approached me after a series of pitches and told me about Novalia, a company that is combining current printing techniques, electroconductive ink, and ultra-thin control units to make paper an interactive medium, capable of sensing visual, auditory, or touch inputs, connecting to the Web, displaying audiovisual information. At least in theory. I didn’t see any prototypes. But if you put together the clues from Novalia’s website with the more concrete news from IBM, it seems like the era of sentient things might still be ahead of us – and maybe not too far:

Control module
We have developed and supply a ‘printed electronics control module’; this self contained unit consists of a power source, integrated circuit (I/O control and interaction flow), and sound transducer.

The module is very simple to integrate with the printed item, in fact it’s almost as easy as putting a stamp on an envelope (but for now it’s not quite as thin).

The integration of the module and the conductive inks enables the printed item and the user to communicate through the senses of touch, sightand sound.

A Chat with BT Openzone’s Chris Bruce

by on July 20, 2009 at 4:01 pm

Below I’m chatting with BT Openzone’s CEO Chris Bruce at the top of BT Tower in London last week during a dinner BT hosted for the Traveling Geeks.

We used their dongles on the road from London to Cambridge and back again. It’s essentially the equivalent of the Verizon EVDO card I have for my Thinkpad.

£9.99 gives you the dongle and works for people who have a Home Broadband (ADSL) Option 3 connection – with 1Gig 3G access for 18 months and an array of other features including unlimited wifi.

Prices for other packages vary depending of amount of 3G Gigs per monthly usage and features of the ADSL broadband.

For pure pre-pay customers, the cost of the dongle cannot be covered by a monthly usage charge and so the cost is obviously higher.

British telecom calls

UK Diary: Friday – Cambridge Consultants, Nokia And Microsoft Research Labs

by on July 20, 2009 at 3:26 pm

Friday afternoon the Traveling Geeks visit Cambridge Consultants and visit the William Gates III building for meetings with researchers from Nokia Labs and Microsoft Research Labs (MRL).

Cambridge Consultants has helped bring to market products such as:

Virtually waterless washing machine

The “connected patient

Low cost cellular base stations.

More here.

The Microsoft Research Labs are part of the academic community at Cambridge university and the work is open and peer-reviewed. In the video our guide is Cambridge university lecturer and successful entrepreneur Jack Lang, also Ken Wood, deputy director of MRL, Tim Regan, Research SDE at MRL, and presentations from their colleagues. The video also shows some of Microsoft’s research projects.

Skype and the Social Web

by on July 19, 2009 at 8:58 pm

Skype Screen logos Perhaps a little known fact outside Skype Headquarters is that the social web is fundamental to its product development strategy.

During the development of Skype 4.0 for Windows, for example, over 50,000 individual pieces of feedback were gathered from users around the world, from blogs, forums and Twitter as well as direct surveys.

Skype’s experience team, which consists of a mixture of designers and researchers, reviewed and analyzed the data they received, and their findings had a direct influence on the way the product grew and matured from beta to final versions.

Functionality and user interface were both greatly influenced by the views of Skype users, but not, of course, without the expert knowledge and experience of Skype’s engineers and designers.

For Skype, however, this wasn’t a one-off; it’s an everyday way of doing business. Peter Parkes, Skype’s blogger-in-chief, works daily with product teams to gather, collate and pass on feedback. And it doesn’t just go to the engineers and designers who build the software itself.

The feedback also helps their customer support team provide better answers to users’ questions, and helps their marketing team produce more compelling copy. Remember, every tweet counts.

Refer back to the video interview I did with Parkes and community manager Dobb.

Skype was a sponsor of the Traveling Geeks UK tour.

Will BT let JP create the first open network operator? One scenario for the mobile Web

by on July 14, 2009 at 11:21 pm

The Web exists because Tim Berners-Lee didn’t require any network operator to rewire its central switch. Google exists because nobody has to ask permission to create a new way to use the Web. These affordances for innovation are no accident: Sir Tim could give away the Web and Larry and Sergey could make billions of dollars for themselves because the architects of the internet’s original protocols were wise enough to reserve innovation for the edges, not the center of the network. The authors of what has become known as the internet’s realized that control of the network – technical, economic, political – could be radically decentralized, and that by enabling anyone who played by the TCP/IP rules to connect anything they wanted to the network, future media that they didn’t even dream about in the olden days would one day become possible. So the Web, cyberculture, the dot com economy, digital media, the refashioning of global economic production by digital networks, grew extremely rapidly.

The merger of the mobile phone and the internet has not grown anywhere nearly as rapidly as the web precisely because there is someone you have to ask for permission in the mobile world – the network operators. And network operators evolved from regulated monopoly telephony providers, who have done their best to prevent, rather than to facilitate, an internet-like ecology of small and large businesses, heterogeneous media, decentralized control, and a rising economic tide that lifts small boats and threatens huge ships that take a long time to turn. We have yet to see an owner of significant telecommunications network open their network by providing an open application programming interface (api)

Which brings us to JP Rangaswami:

JP Rangaswami talks to the travelling geeks

JP Rangaswami talks to the travelling geeks

(Source: JD Lasica)

JD Lasica’s photo was taken atop BT Tower in London, when British Telecom’s CIO of Global Services invited the Travelling Geeks to dinner in a private, revolving dining room in BT’s high-security antenna tower, a landmark on the London skyline I’ve often wondered about. How that dinner came to be is a story of how life happens online these days. A link from another blog brought me to JP’s blog, Confused of Calcutta, years ago; I read it via RSS regularly, and when I saw that the blogger was on Twitter, I started following him. When JP used, it tweeted what he was listening to. I couldn’t help noticing that he listened to a fair amount of Grateful Dead music. So I started to correspond with him. When he visited the San Francisco Bay Area, he invited me (via Facebook) to join him for dinner. He had more than a few interesting things to say about the way media infrastructure might evolve in the future. So when I knew we were going to London, I introduced the Travelling Geeks to JP. He, in turn, invited us to dinner. It dawned on me that my blogger thinker Deadhead social media acquaintance wielded some clout at BT when we were greeted for dinner by the CEO of British Telecom.

It was probably JP’s idea to seat me next to Ted Griggs, the founder of Ribbit, a company JP had acquired. The seating was probably no accident. Here’s Ribbit’s elevator pitch. (Another way of describing Ribbit’s product, Griggs told me, as London revolved below us, would be “open API’s for [now BT’s] networks.”)

I’ve been writing about the future of digital media for a while now, and I think I’ve developed a pretty good spidey-sense for something that could change everything. When I met the people JP had collected and saw what they were doing (during a morning of demos after our dinner), I was reminded of nothing so much as the time I got to know Bob Taylor at Xerox PARC and started to realize that what they were doing on Palo Alto’s Coyote Hill Road with personal computers, networks, graphical user interfaces way back in the 1970s was going to be the foundation of the 21st centuries fundamental structuring technologies.

But Xerox management, of course, thought they were in the copier business and failed to take advantage of the fact that their research arm invented the GUI, the Ethernet, and the laser printer.

Will BT management realize that they aren’t in the telephone network operator business, and that someone in their midst has invited not only their future, but everyone else’s? Stay tuned.

Handhelds for Doctors

by on July 12, 2009 at 11:49 am
Innovator of Handheld Digital Medical Records

Innovator of Handheld Digital Medical Records

At the Cambridge University Pitt Building, in a program led by Omobono Digital Services, we viewed show and tell presentations by some of Cambridge’s most promising start-ups. Among several good ideas was a great one presented by Dr. Al-Ubaydli. Conversion to digital medical records has been an American national quest for the past decade and a priority for the Obama Administration. Dr. Al-Ubaydli has been working with the Feds (NIH) for the past six years to bring his hand-held medical records download program to fruition. He suggested that University of Cambridge is a great incubator to work from and he collaborates with doctors and engineers in the States and elsewhere to bring the technology to market.

Great example of global technology development, incubated in university labs, solving big problems through collaboration of doctors, hospitals, governments, and industry.

Photo Credit: Renee Blodgett

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